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Question about Possible Disc problems


I hurt my back about 9 months ago squatting. Ive had constant pain in my lower back when bending or setting as well as running down both legs.

Recently I started trying to do the McKenzie Stretch as I've read alot of good things about it and thought I'd give it a try. Since I started to do them I've had alot worse back pain and numbness and tingling pain in both legs. I didnt use to have the pain and tingling in my right leg very often at all. Now its constant. I've heard people say that this might be a sign that its not disc related. I was wondering if this is true? Can somebody give me more info on this?

I've yet to have an MRI done because of money issues. But I have been to the Chiro and she took X-rays and said she though I have herniated disc. So I dunno.


Go see an orthopedic physician who can do a proper assessment and MRI. Anytime you have numbness/tingling down BOTH legs is a big red flag for major concern where there is a worry of possible spinal cord trauma or cauda equina syndrome. Also, if McKenzie Stretches caused/increased symptoms, you may have a vertebral issue and/or possible spondy.


I'm not to clear on what your saying. What exactly do you mean by "vertebral issue and/or possible spondy".

Yea, I know I definitely need to go to the orthopedic, but its hard to find physicians I trust in my area and money issues.


When you have numbness and tingling down one leg, you think of sciatic involvement or a unilateral disc bulge, which both can be treated conservatively with medication and rehab and are not a giant red flag.

When you have numbness and tingling down BOTH legs, you worry about a spondy (fracture to the vertebrae), damage to the spinal cord itself, cauda equina syndrome, or other more serious and even non-back related issues (circulatory issues, etc).

The fact that the symptoms increased and in part were created by McKenzie drills, which put the lumbar spine into extension, I would be concerned that you are not doing the exercises properly and/or have a spondy or one of the other more significant issues.


I have had lower back issues for some time and, although not medically diagnosed, I am pretty certain I have disc damage (lower back pain predominant on the right hand side leading to pain in buttock area and nerve tingling down right leg). Sadly, despite some rehab and laying off certain exercises, it has deteriorated. I am now considering a total lay-off from any training while swallowing some NSAIDs and getting some chiropractic sessions. Unless I go private, getting an MRI on the UK health service could be some wait.
I know it's a how long is a piece of string question, but I wondered whether anyone had experienced anything similar and could estimate recovery period? I am in love with the iron but at 38-years-old I am now considering longer term health. Any genuine input appreciated.


I see what your saying now. With that in mind, do you reccomend and orthapedic spine specialist or a sports doc/physical therapist. I'm really concerned about the type of treatment. I've heard many people say that alot of doctors are just gun-ho for surgery or dont understand the nature of back injury's from sports related activities in the way that sports specialist do.

My aim obviously is to be able to squat and deadlift again as well as combat sports. From alot of the things I read, many doctors dont have as great of an understanding of this. Am I correct or just plain wrong? I am completely ignorant on the subject save what I've read.


I would just start doing research on whichever doctor you see. See if they work with many athletes in general and if they deal with a lot of disc/lumbar injuries. Seeing a physical therapist/athletic trainer isn't bad as they can do a movement screen and do a physical assessment on you, but they won't be able to prescribe any medications or order any MRIs/image tests and if they suspect anything will end up most likely referring you to a physician.

A spine ortho specialist would be great especially if they have experience working with athletic population. A sports physician is a very broad term, as they could be a general medical practitioner with minimal ortho skills who just specialized in sports medicine background, or they could be a general orthopedic physician with a variety of backgrounds. So again, just do your research before going to see the physician making sure they are experienced with dealing with athletic population and spine injuries.

My experience with physicians have always been with those who are involved with athletic teams, so they have always had an athletic mindset with their options. Just come prepared when you go to see the doc and explain your future goals and what they mean to you. Tell him/her that you have athletic based goals and would like to take a non-surgical approach if it is possible. Epidural steroidal injections, oral medications, and therapy/rehab can greatly reduce disc injury symptoms (I currently am actually recovering from one right now that occurred during combat sports). Best of luck with it and again, to repeat myself, just do your research on the doc before you go to see him/her.


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Well I went to an Orthopedic spine center and seen a doc who is supposedly a specialist in this area. He done a physical exam of me, had be bend different ways and things like that. He prescribed me some oral steroids and told me to come back in two weeks for an MRI. I told him about my goals of getting back to lifting and combat sports. He told me i had youth on my side as a good thing, but that it was bad that I waited so long. Its been 9 months.

He said depending on what the MRI shows, he would start some kind of injections in the disc. And he said something later about physical therapy. So yea, basically just what you said Levelheaded. I'm hoping that because i'm only 22 and really trying to get recovered from this, my body can heal itself back to the way I was before, or better. I wont to stay firmly away from surgery. However I am wondering how surgery would actually effect lifting or Jiu-Jitsu if it is successful. I know of three pro fighter that have had spinal fusion and still continue to compete at the highest levels of MMA. Can you shed some light on this levelheaded?


I would just take surgery out of your mind frame completely right now. To think about that is already taking on a defeated mindset IMO. Obviously I'm not saying down the road it may not be an option especially if the conservative treatments are not helping, but right now you are on the right track. Unfortunately the physician is correct in saying that it sucks that you waited so long to get it checked out as the disc has already started to scar in the bulged state, but this doesn't mean all is hopeless.

You should get some good relief from the oral steroidal medication (I am assuming it is a Medrol Dose pack, where you will take 6 pills the first day, then 5 the next, then 4, 3, 2, 1). After the MRI, there will be more info as to the severity of the bulge, where it is located, and they will know where to put the Epidural Steroidal Injection (goes into the disc/spine) if it is necessary. You generally can get a series of 3 shots, but it isn't necessary to take all 3. If 1 shot fixes it, that's all you need. With the treatment and rehab, you should be good to go.

If it does come to surgery, it is a coin toss IMO. I've seen some athletes come back better than ever after surgery and a LONG rehab. But I've also seen some come back without any improvement and never get back to their previous athletic level.


I have spondylolysis. My left leg goes numb and lame if I stand on it to long. I can walk no more than 1/2 a block before I have to sit down. Let me tell you I feel your pain. I am excited for my surgery because I have my answer and after it is fixed I can get back to the gym. So all these ney sayers telling you to get surgery out of your mind probably dont understand what its like having this pain. Shots and excercise will not fix a spondy problem. My back is broke, my L5 slips out and hits my nerve. The doctors can pretty much tell you what vertebre is bad based on were your leg pain is. My outer calf, hip and outer left quad pain pointed to the nerve between S1 and L5. They can do minimal invasive surgery now for a fusion. It speeds up the healing process because less muscle is dammaged. It will take 6 weeks for the fusion to heal and take. Then there is the therapy. Find a good doctor who does the most modern minimal invasive type of surgery. Check out this video. http://www.orlive.com/tgh/videos/xlif-procedure?view=displayPageNLM


Do you realize that everybody has been discussing disc bulge solutions on this thread and that your injury (spondylolysis) is a completely different injury? Disc bulges occur frequently without the presence of any vertebral bone fracture or spondy. In a situation with a significant spondy, which from what you described is your case, surgery may be the best option. But for somebody with just a bulge occurring, which the OP still hasn't confirmed but seems to be the case, conservative treatment would be the better option IMO. Before it is questioned about how we know the OP doesn't have a spondy, his ortho physician would have noted it on the x-ray. Is it possible for the x-ray to miss a spondy, yes. But in those few cases that it is missed by an xray, they are generally a small stress fracture that can be treat with conservative methods of bracing to allow the spine to heal.

I am all for surgery when it is necessary, but IMO conservative methods should be considered/attempted first in most cases. Spinal fusion techniques are much less invasive as they used to be, but there are still many complications that can arise out of the surgery and the rehab following surgery (which is typically a year long rehab). In the situation for the OP and from the information he has given us, I don't see a problem with telling him to not think about surgery at this point and to go with the injection/rehab/conservative treatment option.


Levelhead, i completely agree with you. And my doc seems to be more of the conservative treatment type of doc anyhow. I plan on making a full recovery and being able to lift and train again. The risk factors of the surgery worry me too much to ever have it done unless I had multiple professional opinions telling me it was absolutely necessary.


I have only just joined this site. But I have just had surgery on a slipped disk and still recovering (not long left hopefully), so if you want any advice or anything let me know because I have pics etc of my back.


Do you have plans to start lifting or being active?


I am very active and what caused it. I do lift also although I am no where near as experianced as many members on here, two weeks to go hopefully and should be a full recovery.


Apologies BBB, I never checked back on this thread and missed your reply. That is a kind offer mate and I will take you up on that if I get sent up in that direction by my employer in the near future.
I am taking a training sabbatical, seeing the chiro twice a week, and on NSAIDS. Am going for MRI in January. I'm pissed off to fuck because I will lard up over Christmas, etc, but my long-term health is now my priority.
Cheers again mate.


Try swinging indian clubs and get the shoulders loosened up. The work on your t-spine, specifically upper back flexion.

This has had a profound effect on my low back.

(I have all your issues.)

Also, you can have hernitated disks and that is not the cause of your pain, but rather the symptom for something else, ie bad posture.

Are you foam rolling like a nut case?

No more lumbar extension of flexion until you do the TP work.



Had my MRI two days ago. Just gotta go back to the doc for the results on the 17th. I'm hoping its not so bad news but that's probably unlikely. My ass and legs keep staying cold alot lately. I'm hoping that not a sign of a pinched nerve. Alot of pain most of the time. I guess I got immune to those steroids I've been taking. They took alot of pain away when I first started taking them. Now I feel the same pain.

I'll post the MRI pics up when I get them.


As someone who has had his share of back pain when squatting, I feel for you. But please, before you try "McKenzie stretches" or any type of rehab on yourself, talk to someone certified in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT). This is McKenzie's "school" and has yielded rehab clinicians who should be able to examine you and minimally tell you if they can help you or not. If you want to look up one in your area, there is a therapist locater on the MDT website here: http://www.mckenziemdt.org/index_us.cfm

MDT therapists also don't necessarily care about the medical diagnosis (ie spondy vs herniation), rather, what symptoms change when you are moved. So find a good therapist before even THINKING of surgery.